Sweet grapes, crisp celery, and juicy orange segments adorn this quinoa salad. The tangy orange vinaigrette and crunchy almonds top it perfectly.
Why you’ll love it: A quinoa salad packs plenty of healthy protein so you won’t be left feeling hungry. Perfect for pack-and-go lunches!
How long it takes: 15 minutes, plus 10 minutes to cook the quinoa (you can do that ahead)
Equipment you’ll need: saucepan, mixing bowl, zester or microplane
Servings: 8 side servings or 4 main course servings
I’m excited about this quinoa salad with orange and grapes. I LOVE it. It’s hands-down the best salad that I’ve tasted so far this season. (I know I say that about every salad. I’m just a salad girl. What can I say, salads get me excited!)
We’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian salads with more of a Mediterranean vibe lately, like this chopped Greek salad or Israeli couscous salad. Everyone loves my Caprese pasta salad, too, but I think we need a break from the tomatoes and cucumbers.
This quinoa salad is so refreshing and the flavors are perfect. The grapes are sweet and soft, the celery crisp and fresh, and the orange segments and zest make everything so lively and exciting. Salted almonds add a savory crunch.
What You’ll Love About This Quinoa Salad
- The ingredients (oranges, grapes, celery) are available year round. This isn’t a seasonal salad that relies on ingredients that are only around for a limited time. You can enjoy this salad any time of the year.
- It’s super versatile. You can add nuts, seeds, cheese, even chicken if you like. Dried fruits like raisins or cranberries are a great addition, and seasonal fresh fruit can stand in for the grapes. Keep reading for lots more ideas.
- You can prep the quinoa ahead. You can put this salad together in 15 minutes if you have the quinoa made ahead. I almost always have already-cooked quinoa in my freezer or fridge. I cook the entire package of quinoa at once (try Instant Pot quinoa) so it’s ready when I need it. I love quinoa salads (see a list below) and I also add quinoa to other recipes, like pancakes or savory breakfast muffins.
Is Quinoa Good For You?
Quinoa is actually a seed although it’s classified as a whole grain. It’s gluten-free and a complete protein, meaning it has all the amino acids you need for protein. Each one cup serving contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, along with many other important nutrients. Quinoa is definitely good for you!
Ingredients You’ll Need
I’ll run through the recipe here to get you started. Be sure to refer to the recipe card below for measurements, instructions, and nutrition information.
- Quinoa: You’ll need a cup of uncooked quinoa. You can make quinoa ahead and either freeze or refrigerate it. Quinoa comes in different colors: red, black, or white; choose your favorite kind. The quinoa pictured in this salad is white.
- Red Grapes: Either red or green grapes are fine but I like the color contrast of red grapes for this salad. Cut the grapes in half so they are easier to eat.
- Celery: Crisp green celery provides a nice crunch. Did you know that celery has important antioxidants, fiber, and minerals that are beneficial to your health?
- Red Onion: You can substitute a sweet onion if you prefer. To reduce the assertive flavor of onions, soak the diced onion in ice water for 10 minutes or so. Drain well.
- Oranges: You’ll need 2 navel oranges and none of the orange will go to waste because the zest and juice go in the vinaigrette and the juicy segments go into the salad too.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This heart-healthy oil has so much flavor. It brings a lot to the salad so aim for a high quality olive oil (the greener the better!).
- White Wine Vinegar: Slightly sweet in flavor, white wine vinegar blends perfectly with the orange juice to make a juicy, yummy dressing.
- Honey: I like to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit with just a smidge of honey. If your honey is crystallized or super thick, warm it up a bit in the microwave before adding it to the vinaigrette. If you happen to follow a vegan diet, simply substitute maple syrup or agave, or leave it out entirely.
- Almonds: Salted roasted almonds add the finishing touch to the salad. If you prefer a different kind of nut, that’s totally acceptable. Be sure to toast/roast the nuts before you add them to the salad for the best flavor.
How To Make This Quinoa Salad
The first thing you’ll need to do is cook the quinoa. Follow the package directions. When the quinoa is cooked, spread it out on a rimmed baking pan or tray so it cools more quickly.
Next, prep the oranges. Using a microplane or zester, zest one of the oranges first. It’s so much easier to zest an orange when it’s whole! Next, segment the oranges. If you are uncertain how to do this, this short Youtube video from Real Simple is very helpful.
In a large bowl, lightly combine the cooled quinoa, orange segments, grapes, celery, and onion.
Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients: the freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, honey, and white wine vinegar.
Add the vinaigrette to the salad, and stir until well combined. Taste a spoonful of salad to check the seasoning. You may want to add a pinch of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Add the chopped almonds right before serving.
Your salad can be served immediately or refrigerated for up to three days. It’s delicious at room temperature or chilled.
One cup of dried quinoa makes 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
Change It Up
This is a pretty simple salad and it’s easy to customize it. Use what you have in the fridge. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:
- Make it a main dish salad: Add toasted pecans, toasted walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds for extra protein. Add cheese: feta, goat, gorgonzola, smoked gouda, fresh mozzarella, whatever you like. A can of garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained) adds more protein. Meat lovers, stir in cooked and cooled chicken breast or rotisserie chicken.
- Try different fruit and vegetable combinations: strawberries and spinach leaves, peaches and jicama, orange sections and avocado. You get the idea. Be creative!
- Include dried fruits: Dried fruits, like cranberries, apricots, cherries, dates, or raisins are a lovely addition.
- Add chopped fresh herbs: A handful of parsley, lemon balm, fresh mint, or basil is always a good idea!
- Make it vegan: Omit the honey and use maple syrup or agave instead.
Storage & Make Ahead Tips
If you prefer, make this salad ahead. It keeps well for up to three days. I prefer to hold the chopped nuts and add them right before serving so they retain their crunch. Refrigerate it in a tightly covered container (or individual sized containers) and serve it whenever you’re ready. Perfect for lunchboxes, too!
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (3 cups cooked)
- 2 cups halved red grapes
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- ¼ cup finely diced red onion
- 2 oranges, segmented and segments halved (be sure to zest the orange first!)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, squeezed from membranes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey (see note)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped salted roasted almonds (or your favorite roasted nuts or seeds)
- Cook quinoa as directed on package. Spread on plate or baking sheet to cool slightly.
- Prepping the oranges (see notes): Zest one orange first. You should have about 1 teaspoon of zest. Set the zest aside. Using a sharp knife, slice off the bottom and top of each orange. Set the oranges on the flat side and cut away the peel and white pitch. Segment each orange, placing the segments into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes into a small bowl. You should have at least 1 tablespoon of juice.
- Add the quinoa, grapes, celery, and onion to the large bowl that contains the orange segments. Mix lightly to combine.
- In the bowl containing the orange juice, add the remaining dressing ingredients: orange zest, olive oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the quinoa mixture and stir until all ingredients are distributed. Fold in almonds.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Vegan Option: Omit honey. Maple syrup or agave can be substituted.
- Make Ahead: Salad will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.
- Not sure how to segment an orange? Take a look at this short YouTube video from Real Simple.
- Try seasonal fruits instead of the grapes, such as berries, peaches, sweet cherries, etc.
- If desired, add ¼ to ½ cup crumbled feta, goat, or blue cheese.
- Dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, cherries) can be added to the salad, if you like.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.